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The Denver Paper Fashion Show: Behind the Scenes With the Green Angel

Updated on November 21, 2019
Joel Diffendarfer profile image

Joel's most recent projects include Burning Man 2017, Colorado Hemp Expo, Denver Paper Fashion Shows, Arise Music Festival and more.

The Magic of Paper

2016 Third Place Winner
2016 Third Place Winner | Source

An Annual Paper Fashion Show

The Denver Paper Fashion Show, put on by the ADCD (Art Directors Club of Denver), could just as easily be called the Denver Paper Magic show because of the amazing transformations that happen with paper, scissors, and some real ingenuity from designers both young and old and from people from all around and from within the art scenes. Contributing paper sponsors also love the possibilities that expose them to the ingenious designs and inventive thinking that are spurred through these creations.

The ADCD Paper Fashion Show has been going on for the past thirteen years and has seen hundreds and hundreds of outstanding designs and over one thousand designers. A big part of the magic is the money that has been raised for the development of artist and at risk youth within the local communities. To date, over $40,000 has been raised.

The 2017 ADCD Paper Fashion Show will benefit the ADCD scholarship fund and the Downtown Aurora Visual Arts Organization which provides community based arts and education programs for youth ages 3 to 17.

The 13th annual show wil be held on Thursday, April 6th, 2017, at the Denver Center for Performing Arts in Denver, Colorado.

13th Annual Denver Paper Fashion Show
13th Annual Denver Paper Fashion Show | Source

Behind the Scenes with the Green Angel

There's a lot that happens behind the scenes leading up to the big moment when a design gets no more than ten minutes of "runway" time. The preparation for my last show took over 250 hours of design, planning, construction, painting, and rehearsals. And that was just my time. Now, multiply that by the number of dedicated team members, which in my case was six. That comes to nearly 1500 hours of combined time. Quite a lot for a 10-minute presentation. Of course, that effort did lead to a third-place win out of fifty contestants.

So, why do it? It wasn't for the money, we didn't make any. What it was, was for the pure joy of watching a thought, an idea, go from paper to the spotlight. It also led to a great portfolio addition and great business contacts. On top of that, the friendships that are developed through the process last a lifetime. And that, you can't put a price tag on.

The best part of the whole show was the show that happens behind the scenes. And now, I am embarking on it once again with a creation called, "The Green Angel."

2016 Denver Paper Fashion Show News Report

This video is a television report on the 12th Annual 2016 Paper Fashion Show and shows both the runway and the behind the scenes with contestants getting prepared. And yes, you will also see our 3rd place entry and some of our designers. With this year's entry, the Green Angel, we hope to be making some videos of our own.

A Paper Ballroom Design
A Paper Ballroom Design | Source

Team Green

The design for the upcoming 13th Anual ADCD Paper Fashion Show is being put together by a design team made up of members from last year's team along with some new ones. The veteran team members will be able to bring the new members up to speed pretty quickly and will have a lot to share about what worked and what didn't work. We are calling this year's team Team Green, based of course on our project, "The Green Angel."

The only requirement to be a team member/designer is a deep-seated passion and the willingness to commit to a regularly scheduled time to get together and discuss the possibilities, develop approaches, and be willing to get your hands dirty...or at least get a couple of paper cuts or two. The whole process is quite addictive as you watch your collective thoughts, designs, and ideas come to fruition.

So far, this year's team consist of a laser artist, a fabric artist, an electronic clothing artist, a promoter and connector artist, an engineer, a welder/artist, and a painter. And we are looking for more!

Rear view of our paper dragon design from 2016 with 15-foot tail and feathered wings
Rear view of our paper dragon design from 2016 with 15-foot tail and feathered wings | Source

Team Green Online Design Studio

During the conceptual phase of "The Green Angel," at least for now, the current member/designers all live in different places (York, PA, Denver, CO, Boulder, CO, Loveland, CO, Ft Collins, CO, and Las Vegas, NV). We communicate via email, Facebook, Facetime, and via a website where our collective thoughts build.

What you see on our website and design studio may change over the course of twenty-one weeks and more content will be added to keep a record of the whole process. After the show, fashion show pics will be added along with the results.

You will also find that the designer's list will increase along with the consultants. Everybody helping with the project will be acknowledged.

Base Layer, Green Angel

Step One, base layer of the Green Angel
Step One, base layer of the Green Angel | Source

The Green Angel Concept

The concept of the Green Angel grew from the desire to promote the hemp paper and related industry (not the marijuana industry). We wanted to promote the idea that the hemp plant is such a useful, sustainable natural plant that greater attention should be given to it. And thus, The Green Angel was born. She, in true Paper Fashion form, is not just a beautiful creation, but a statement in living form to communicate a positive message. To understand more, read the article Hemp vs. Trees. Hemp not only saves us money, but protect our environment.

Entering Your Design

So, you want to enter the Paper Fashion Show on your own? It's really pretty simple...

  1. Choose a design
  2. Register on the ADCD website
  3. Pay your entrance fee, or find a sponsor to pay it for you
  4. Get approved
  5. Build, build, build
  6. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
  7. Showtime
  8. Collapse
  9. Get excited about next year!

Okay, well, there's a little more to do than that...

There's the matter of picking paper swatches, creating prototypes, making repairs, finding a model that can walk the runway, hair and makeup, and inevitably, making lots of repairs. As you're probably well aware, paper tears easily.

Costs and Benefits of Entering a Show

Entering the Denver Paper Fashion Show certainly won't make you rich; it will probably end up costing you money. What it will do, however, even if you don't come in first, second, or third, is give you a great reference for your personal portfolio. It is a great investment when it comes to networking with other great artists and business people.

Community Workspaces like Loveland Creator Space in Loveland Colorado are popping up everywhere.  Support them!
Community Workspaces like Loveland Creator Space in Loveland Colorado are popping up everywhere. Support them! | Source

The Tools

Luckily, a simple set of tools will get you started. As with last years design, on the upcoming Green Angel design, we are blessed to be utilizing the resources available through a large community-based nonprofit workshop with all the possible tools, equipment, and space we need. We use the Loveland Creator Space. More communities should have these spaces. Be sure to check out and encourage your own local community workshop spaces.

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